Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Do the Future Plans of Educated Black Women Include Black Mates?

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

Do the Future Plans of Educated Black Women Include Black Mates?

Article excerpt


When young, educated Black women at a large city university began voicing apprehension about finding college-educated mates, Bronzaft (1991) decided to undertake a study examining these women's future goals. She found that they, like their White and Hispanic counterparts, wanted it all: career, marriage, and family. Two-thirds of these women planned to further their education beyond college; over 90% wanted careers in business, law, health, or education; and over 80% looked toward a future in which their careers would be combined with marriage and children. Bronzaft notes, however, that a larger number of black college women, 7% compared to 0% for Hispanics and 2% for Whites, indicated the desire to be "unmarried career women." Did this larger percentage reflect the anxiety of the young, educated Black women in Bronzaft's study over finding appropriate marriage partners of similar racial/ethnic background and comparable educational standing? The present study investigates this phenomenon.


Fewer Black men than Black women are receiving college degrees (Yeakey & Bennett, 1990). At both predominantly White and traditionally Black college and university campuses, far more Black women than Black men are in attendance (Washington & Newman, 1991). Black women are also earning more advanced degrees. From 1982 to 1992, he number of Black men earning doctorates declined by 20%; by 1992, Black women outnumbered them 565 to 386 (Manegold, 1993).

Spanier and Glick (1980) note that as Black single women seek good educations and high-paying jobs, they find it more difficult to locate suitable marriage partners of any race. Teachman, Polonko, and Leigh's (1987) research echoes this concern, as does that of Staples (1979), who claims that many Black educated women "will accept nothing less than a mate of similar educational level" (p. 157). Further accentuating the plight of educated Black women, Staples (1981 reports that, among the Black female population in the United States, Black women who possess college degrees are least likely to marry. He also found that the higher the level of education Black women attain, the higher their probability of divorce.

Washington and Newman (1991) support the notion that Black women may prefer to remain single rather than settle for unions with less-educated Black men who, these researchers contend, will not be able to satisfy these women's psychological needs. Moreover, as Washington and Newman state: "Black women are likely to remain single or seek out alternative means of meeting these needs" (p. 32). What might some of these alternative means be? Are these educated Black women seeking to increase the pool of suitable mates by dating men of other racial/ethnic backgrounds?

If census data is any indicator, a growing number of men and women, both Black and White, are challenging traditional taboos against interracial marriage. The Black female/White male married couples accounted for less than 1% of all marriages in the US. in 1993, the number of these couples was two-and-one-half times greater in 1993 than 1970 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1994). Black women do marry members of other minority groups but do so even less frequently (Blackwell, 1991).

The general pattern of White/Black marriages usually involves Black males and White females. This was true for approximately 76% in 1977, 72% in 1980, and 68% in 1987 (Blackwell, 1991 but rose again to 75% in 1993 (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1994). Blackwell maintains that more Black men than White cross color boundaries for marriage partners because the forms have been socialized to believe that Caucasian features are more desirable and that marriage to a White woman will enhance both their egos and their status in society. On the other hand, Blackwell contends, White men are penalized economically and socially when they intermarry; thus, fewer of them choose Black women as marriage partners. …

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